Monday, April 30, 2007

Sloshing White Wine

On the way back from the New Vrindavan community, A and I decided to spend the night in Morgantown. The original plan was to get some rest at the hotel where we were staying, and then go party with the college-aged knuckleheads in "dowtown Morgantown." We ended up getting buzzed at the hotel bar, called the Rat Pack Lounge. It ended up being the right decision, by a mile.

You know those nature shows where the filmmaker sets up a camera on some plain or mountainside waiting for something to happen. Fifty-five minues of the show will be a lot of less interesting animals and regret. Just as the filmmaker is about to pack up the camera and head home, there it is: the snow leopard.

Our snow leopard turned out to be Trish.

A and I had been having a serious discussion fueled by rum (her), beer (me) and greasy, grossly oversized appetizers. The spinach and artichoke dip came out in a bucket, and you were supposed to eat it with what appeared to be full-sized baguettes. We thought they must have mistaken our order for a room service order placed by an elephant staying in Room 315.

The yawns started coming, fueled in part by the guitarist/singer who insisted in playing James Taylor (boring) and Jimmy Buffett (lame) songs. He was putting the whole house to sleep.

Then, came Trish and her friends. I only remember the name of one of them, Kelly. Kelly was celebrating her 40th birthday, and the crew hit the Rat Pack Lounge with a vengeance. There may have been five or fifteen of them. Outside of Trish and Kelly, the rest of the crew were ciphers. They stormed up to the bar and ordered glasses of white wine.

I don't know what it is about women and white wine. Women drinking white wine weird me out in the same way women who wear hats do. It is like white wine is the safe, lady-like way to get hammered. I always find it amusing when I hear some woman say, "I'll have the Pinot Grigio." Like it matters. White wine tastes like cold wine. ("Do you taste the pear?" "No, I taste the cold"). Red wines tend to be far more complex.

This friend once told me that you can tell if a women is down for hooking up, in general or with you, by the way she holds a glass of wine. If she is touching the stem of the wine glass, its yours.

Trish was cupping the the top part of the glass and guzzling the wine in between "woo-hoos" and requests to the singer/guitarist. Trish was unsteady; the white white sloshed over the edges of the glass. The message she was sending, other than she is getting DRUNK tonight, was unclear.

Eventually Trish and the gals got up to the front and started doing karaoke with the singer/guitarist. When Trish and the gang started to sing "Brown Eye Girl," A and I made sure to get in at least one more drink order. We had to see what was going to happen next.

From what I could tell, Trish was in her early to mid-thirties. She didn't seem to be wearing a wedding ring. She was moderately attractive, definitely the best looking woman in her crew. As she started to do some sort of snakey, convulsive dancing to "Only The Good Die Young," I wondered if she got much attention as a kid. Whether she did a similar dance in front of her father, who dismissed her nonsense with a grunt and a long drag off a Winston.

Right next to A and I was this guy who was watching Trish and the girls. He was by himself, nursing a scotch. Occaisionally he'd look at his phone, but mostly he watched the ladies do their thing.

I turned to A and said, "If his game is tight, he'll probably end up with Trish. If its not, he's still got a good chance with the off-key big girl next to her."

A and I ended up heading up to the room with a glass of wine (Cabarnet; I am not a hypocrite) each for a nightcap. But, we couldn't stop thinking about Trish. As we drank the Cab, we wondered what was going to happen to Trish.

I said,"You know she's going to wake up, hung over and naked in that guy's room tomorrow morning. And she's going to say to herself, Oh no, not again. Not again."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trippin, Road Style

I live in Washington, DC. Three hundred miles outside my hometown...that is where the Hare Krishna's decided to build a big home.

The Hare Krishnas are an offshoot of mainline Hinsuism. Many remember them as the evangelical kooks who beat tambourines and asked for some of your time and money. Many were right.

Many of the leaders were Americans. One such American was a man named Keith Ham. Who later became known as Kirtanananda Swami. He created the utopia that is the New Vrindavan community just outside Wheeling, WV. A beautiful place, highlighted by the beautiful Palace of Gold.

Here is what I learned about the Kirtanananda Swami from Wikipedia:

"In 1986, Kirtanananda Swami was removed from ISKCON for failing to submit to the ISKCON Governing Body Commission and for illegal activities. He then established his own organization and took several properties with him, including New Vrindavan. New Vrindavan was excommunicated the following year.

In 1990, the US federal government indicted Kirtanananda Swami on five counts of racketeering, six counts of mail fraud, and conspiracy to murder two of his opponents in the Hare Krishna movement. The government claimed that he illegally amassed a profit of more than $10.5 million over four years. It also charged that he ordered the killings because the victims threatened to reveal that he sexually abused minors.

The swami was convicted on nine of the eleven charges in 1991, but the Court of Appeals threw out the convictions, saying that child molestation evidence had unfairly prejudiced the jury against Kirtanananda Swami who was not charged with those crimes.

In 1996, before Kirtanananda Swami's retrial was completed, he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was released in June 2004."

I came to the New Vrindavan ready to ask tough questions about Keith Ham. "A" convinced me not to. Instead, we walked around a beautiful place, our heads down so we wouldn't be harrassed by the community members. We sat down by a beautiful pond. Took it in. Watched a couple of frisky swans bask in a beautiful day. Thought we'd avoided the community. Until "they" came.

They snuck up behind us. Not a word. I don't know what they would have done to us. If I had not seen them.

"Oh shit, get up," I said to A. They were bigger than I expected. An they were up to no good.

I don't know what you know about peacocks, but they are sons-of-bitches. Mean suckers. And they were coming for us. They are like crack fiends. But instead of crack they want and expect seed. The good kind. And, all we had was cash. And they'd take that instead if they could.

We got up and walked away with pride. Fast, but with pride. And soon made our way to the Wheeling Gaming Center/Island. To bet on dogs. With sophistication.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Notes On SC Democratic Debate

My notes from watching the SC Democratic debate...

7:01 -- Shot of candidates. Richardson looks constipated. And jowly. Dodd is pretty jowly too. If people chose their presidents by jowl-sized, these two would be the front-runners. I think I counted 8 chins on Dodd.

7:03 -- A Keebler elf employed by a local news station is going to be aiding Brian Williams in the questioning. Elf power!

7:07 -- Obama is giving a rambling non-sequitur response to a question about why he called the war dumb.

7:09 -- Clinton says this election should not be about what happened in the past re Iraq, but what people will do now. She's impressing.

7:14 -- Who is this grumpy old man Gravel? He wants to criminalize everything. Felony to stay in Iraq? He's about to literally explode, and it's awesome.

7:17 -- Obama stumbles through another answer. He's crumbling.

7:20 -- Where is Biden? They aren't calling on him. Screw that, more Gravel!

7:23 -- Richardson is sweating through his make-up. At the end of the debate he will be an sweaty pile of incoherence.

7:25 -- Dodd gets asked a question about him having the most "Washington experience." Hasn't Biden served as long as he has? Where is Biden?

7:26 -- Even Kucinich is being asked questions. Where is Biden.

7:27 -- Finally they ask Biden a question. Can you be lees worthy and gaffe-prone? "Yes." That's it until 8 probably.

7:28 -- Gravel says he's scared of all the candidates. I think he might punch someone. And Kucinich is closest to him. And that makes it ok.

7:33 -- Obama's ears are distracting.

7:44 -- The questions about domestic issues bore me.

7:49 -- I hear Richardson likes to booze it up. I wouldn't mind going on a bender with him. And maybe if I did, this response about health care would make more sense.

7:52 -- Gravel declares that he is not a potted plant. I agree. Get this man more air time.

8:00 -- Richardson is asked to state what he would do on his first day in office in one sentence. He speaks for a full minute.

8:04 -- Gravel claims the military industrial complex controls government, the world. Lockheed and I both disagree.

8:12 -- Obama is imploding. He's asked what he would do militarily, overseas, if America suffers two terrorist attacks simultaneously in two major American cities. Why is he talking about Katrina? Someone has shuffled his talking points.

8:18 -- Oh yeah, Dodd is still here. He's asked about his views on gay marriage. I don't care what he has to say. I wonder instead about why so many women I know think feet are disgusting. Strange.

8:21 Gravel says there has been terrorism since the beginning of time. He implores us not to fight terrorism because it won't work. What the hell is he talking about and why won't they let him talk more?

8:23 -- Clinton has impressed. I don't want to be a fan, but here I am. I want to like Obama, but ever time he speaks, it is fingernails on a chalkboard.

8:28 -- Biden has the line of the night, smacking Kucinich down for all his "happy talk" about the real threats that face America. Later on, I wonder if Biden will regret saying that when he sees Kucinich's wife. I am pretty sure she is a witch.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Nanny State, Finally

According to this Washington Post article, the FCC is commencing an effort to regulate violence on TV, especially cable. While some may argue this is just another example of social conservatives using the government to regulate human behavior, I think it is more subtle. It is, frankly, a welcome effort to address the ills identified by the Smith theorem.

Almost 20 years ago, W. Smith posited his simple theorem: Parents just don't understand. While some may argue this was simple a statement of teen angst, I believe it had a deeper message. Smith's parents were clueless and absent. As a result, Smith had to create a persona known as the "Fresh Prince," who was humiliated by having to wear wack gear and who got into legal trouble with underage hookers when his parents went off who knows where leaving him with the family Porsche.

Smith realized that bad parenting was an epidemic, and most parents just don't know how to, well, parent. The obvious solution was for the state to take over as a surrogate. Social conservatives either picked up on Smith's theorem or came to the same conclusion. Regardless of what it was, they are now rectifying the pandemic of bad parenting by making sure people that kids don't see screwing OR killing on TV.

It is a consistent view that is more defensible than prior efforts to censor, which focused merely on sexual content. Of course, as we all know seeing sex can warp a young mind. Seeing straight boning for days can cause actual brain damage. Some days I can't remember what I had for lunch a few hours earlier.

Violence is less pernicious, but problematic nonetheless. Killing when bringing nonexistent democracy to people who don't want it is just; but watching Banner, "the no nonsense cop keeping the mean streets of Philly crime free his way", killing a pimp whose heart wasn't made of kid should have to know about that sickness.

The problem is that most parents don't know how to raise their kids. Nowadays, you see parents taking their kids to see such filth as the Doodlebops. Thankfully, the FCC is chock full of the know how and expertise to control what kids should and should not be exposed to.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Safe Word

Her: Right there.

He stops.

Her: Why did you stop?

You said "There."

Her: No. I meant their.


Her: Their!

"There? Right there? Ok."

Her: No. Their! Their!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Want The Power

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Its the Nappy, Not The Ho

In commenting on the Imus "nappy-headed hos" controversy, several conservative commentators have argued that what Imus said is no worse than what black hip hop artists say in their songs. They are part right. But, that is because they are focused on the least controversial part of the Imus comment.

It is no surprise that black rappers refer to women as "hos" and "bitches." And "tricks." And, in the case of R. Kelley, women remind him of his "jeep" that he wants to ride and his "bank account" because he wants to spend them. For me, women only remind me of my bank account when I realize how much I've spent on them.

Regardless, my point is that black male rappers did not create misogyny. They just express their misogyny more publicly. For every black male rapper that has called a woman a "bitch" or "ho" in a song, I can find you 10 white dudes who do that all the time privately. And, frankly, I can find you 10 women of all kind of races who say that all the time too.

The truth is that while the sexist part of the phrase was terrible, the "nappy" part was the truly offensive part of it. The word "ho" goes to a controllable form of behavior. If you want to stop being a "ho," you could just stop sleeping around. Or stop being a woman, I suppose (and you can do that for cheap in Brazil, I hear.)

Using the word "nappy" is basically a way of saying that someone is intrisically ugly because of their blackness. That these amazing women were some sort of animals because of their dark skin and the texture of their hair. Animal, subhuman hos. That is some deeply ingrained, loathesome racism.

Conservatives seeking to downplay and marginalize racism -- either because they are racist or are tired of being reminded that racism exists -- are trying to obscure the racial element of the Imus comment. It is a non sequitur. Some white people are not still racist because black male rappers say "nigga" or "bitch" or "ho." They are because they are. I am actually impressed when they either don't notice or ignore the irony that they are trying to blame black people for their racism.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Christian God Undercount

According to the book Lost Christianities --- well at least the introduction which is all I got through on the metro home tonight -- there were some early Christians who believed in more than one god. Some thought there were two gods. Some thought there were thirty.

Actually, the estimates of the number of gods among early Christians ran from 1 to as many as 365. Three hundred and sixty five gods is somewhere beyond polytheism. The ancient Greeks look modest by comparison. Who were those Christians that thought there were 365 gods? Unitarians? How did all this confusion happen?

1. Jesus might have been a remarkably ineffective communicator. It was probably not too easy to be confused by Jesus. He spoke in those incomprehensible parables. I could very well see some followers asking things like, "Ok, are you saying that a camel could pass through an eye of a needle or not?" "What was that thing he said about mustard seeds? What are we supposed to do with the mustard seed story again?" There might have been a few who were like, "Did he say that there is one true God, or there are a God for every day?" "Man, I don't know, I am just here for all the free fish and wine." "How could the 365 gods match up with days on the calendar since the Gregorian Calender didn't come into existence until the 16th century AD?" "Where can we get more wine?" Which leads to the more likely explanation...

2. Jesus might have had some remarkably stupid (and probably often drunk) early followers. All cults or movements have their fair share of naifs and idiots. I am sure Christianity shared that truism with other religions. How else could explain how some early Christians believed God created the world while others believed the world was created by a subordinant, clueless lesser god (Pan?)? And yet others believed that the earth was a goof-up an angry God, who intended one thing and ended up with a prison of suffering and pain. In other words, God meant to create Disney World, but we ended up with Busch Gardens. Were people even listening to what Jesus was actually saying? This is what happens when you hang with the guy with good stories and an endless supply of wine.

Although a Christian, I have not believed in organized religion for over twenty years now (to date myself, since I was 12 or so). And, it is for this precise reason -- the principal creation myth is the one behind the various churches. The distilled Christianity we have today is being filtered from wildly divergent views of what Jesus actually said. And, as Ehrman points out in the Lost Christianities, it has led to widely divergent views of Christianity today:
  • Some Christians live in poverty and work to the poor; some televangelists are millionaires who spend countless hours on tv begging for cash.
  • Some Christians closely adhere to ancient litury; others view "high liturgy" as evil tripe.

It is why I subscribe to an existential brand of non-denominational Christianity. The simplest core message in the "New Testament" is the love commandment. That is a cosmic truth: do unto others as others do unto you. For everything else, I think you are on your own. And, that is not a bad thing.